Russia have continued to defy expectation in the football’s showpiece event with good displays which have recently saw them progress to the quarter final. The Host have shocked the football world with a recent Round of 16 elimination of Spain, who in turn were one of the favorites for the World Cup.
A rewind to 2 years ago, the Russian team looked off the pace and almost out of touch in the Euro 2016 competition in France as they suffered a surprising early exit from the competition. While in the Confederation cup last year they looked unprepared for the competition as they were bullied by other continental opposition in the World Cup warm up event.
Prior to the commencement of the World Cup, Russia despite being placed in the same of the group with Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia were not tipped by bookies to make it the round of 16. Many outlets such as Trending Football News reported that this was due to their poor performance which saw them lose all their friendly games prior to the start of the competition.
The Russian team however have silenced their critics with performances which have seen them book a place in the last 8 of the competition. The hosts despite their lack of victory in 4 successive matches en-route to the World cup routed Saudi Arabia 5-0 in their opening game.
Though their victory over the Saudi team was expected, they showed class by edging Egypt 3-1 to book a place in the round of 16 with a game to spare. This Russia side despite losing the battle for top position in the group stages to Uruguay, have now stunned the footballing world with a shock elimination of 2010 champions Spain.
The Russia team despite having the advantage of playing at home and in front of their supporters had to settle for the underdog position with a tactical approach of placing men behind the ball for huge spells of Spanish pressure.
The host went down as early as the 12th minute through an own-goal from Sergei Ignashevic but then recovered from their early slip as Artem Dzyuba restored parity four minutes before the interval.
Not many would have given Russia hope of scoring in this game, meaning the search for btts tips may not have been deemed necessary. However fans around the globe will have wished they had by the time the hosts had equalised.
Russia despite their intense defending had to rely on luck in some occasions as Spain heavily dominated the game. The host were rewarded for their intense defensive work with a spot in the quarter-finals of the competition as the penalty shootout went their way as Spain’s Koke and Iago Aspas both missed their spot kicks.
Russia will be setting their eyes on the semi-final spot when the play Croatia in the quarter final of the competition on Friday. The Croatia side have also displayed quality and huge promise so far and will prove to be a tough test.